Westborough, MA — On February 23rd, 2020, in the Westborough New England Sikh Study Circle Gurdwara Sahib (NESSC) parking lot, two spots closest to the door remained blocked off to the public with traffic cones. The occasion?
For the first time in the NESSC’s history, two members of Congress, Congresswoman Katherine Clark and Congressman Joe Kennedy visited a Sikh place of worship, our Gurdwara. Also attending were Westborough Police Chief, Jeffrey Lourie, Sergeant Michael Daniels, and Selectman Syed Hashmi. The Gurdwara committee President, Baljit Singh Nijjar, Nishkam TV students (the world’s first Sikh TV channel run by Khalsa school students) and other volunteers greeted them as they entered the large, majestic building.
Congresswoman Katherine Clark and Congressman Joe Kennedy took a tour. They met with the management of all the four Gurdwaras in Massachusetts. They observed the Sikhs during their weekly community service, including the preparation of the meal that the Gurdwara serves to the congregation, called Langar in the Sikh native language Punjabi.
Afterwards, they went into a classroom of Khalsa School (which runs every Sunday) where the class was being held. According to a student in the class, “The teachers gave a brief description of the Khalsa School. They further explained other extra-curricular activities held at the Gurdwara.” Students also read the Mool Mantar, the opening message of the Gurus, as ordained at the beginning of the Sikh scriptures.
The highlight of their visit was when Congressman Kennedy and Congresswoman Clark addressed the assembled congregation in the Divan (main) hall. They gave heart-warming speeches to the assembled congregation. They spoke about their political ideology and the ethos of Sikhism, giving anecdotes about the importance of diversity and the immigrant experience.
Congressman Kennedy eulogized the efforts of Dilip Singh Saund, the first Sikh member of the United States House of Representatives, more than half a century ago. Facts pertaining to prevalent issues faced by Sikhs in the US were also part of his address. Congresswoman Clark spoke about the teachings of Sikhism that include the oneness of all mankind and compassion towards all faiths.
The team of Nishkam TV gave a tour of their TV recording studio. The Nishkam TV talent team had the opportunity of interviewing Congress people who left the Gurdwara with new knowledge of the Sikh community in Massachusetts and books about Sikh heritage, given to them by the congregation.
“As members of the community, we really enjoyed watching the elected officials take an interest in our community. I hope that this visit will bring more awareness about the Sikhs. We hope that it will inspire everyone to learn more about us, perhaps look us up on the Internet, or watch recordings of the Congress people’s visit and other interesting content, not just related to Sikhism, on Nishkam.tv and our YouTube channel” said Nishkam TV students.
The New England Sikh Study Circle (NESSC) was established in 1968 as a center for the local Sikh community of the New England area. It governs the Gurdwara Sahib (Sikh place of worship) in Westborough, Massachusetts, where Kirtan services are held on Wednesday evenings, Friday evenings, and Sunday mornings. Classes for both children and adults are held in Sikh theology, language, history, and music. The NESSC is active in various community awareness and interfaith events throughout New England.
Additionally, anyone is always welcome to visit us and share langar at the New England Sikh Study Circle Gurdwara Sahib, located at 168 Flanders Road, Westborough, MA, on Wednesday and Friday evenings anytime from 7 – 8:30 pm, or Sundays, any time from 8:30 am – 1:30 pm.